How Doctors and Nurses Protect Themselves From Infectious Patients

Health care workers take precautions to avoid illness.
Health care workers take precautions to avoid illness.
wutwhanfoto/iStock via Getty Images

For most people, flu season is a time to be extra wary about coming in contact with people coughing, sneezing, or otherwise showing signs of having an illness. But for health care workers like physicians and nurses, they have no choice but to get close to patients who are ill. So why don’t health care workers get sick more often?

In clinical settings, physicians observe some basic and common-sense methods of reducing the risk of exposure to germs. According to Verywell Health, the two biggest edicts are to not touch a patient unless they have to, and to wash their hands before and after coming into contact with a patient. Coupled with avoiding contact between their hands and their own face, these measures greatly diminish the chances for an infection to take hold.

In a hospital setting, however, there are other ways diseases can be transmitted, particularly when bodily fluids are involved. Health care workers never risk bare-skin contact with fluids like blood, spinal fluid, or lung excretions, even if the patient has tested negative for an infection.

If an illness can spread by patient contact, physicians will don gloves and possibly gowns, taking special care to reduce the chances of transmission. If an infection can be transmitted by droplets from coughing or sneezing, physicians may stand 3 to 6 feet away from a patient and wear surgical masks to avoid germs.

Obviously, up-to-date vaccinations also help health care workers avoid tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and other illnesses. Some doctors believe in the immune system benefits of vitamin C and zinc, though there is scant research evidence on their efficacy.

But a patient’s perception of a doctor’s formidable constitution might be just that—a perception. Doctors get sick, too, but owing to the scheduling issues created by being absent, they often force themselves to come into work. When you're dealing with people who are ill, sick days are a luxury most health care professionals can't afford.

[h/t Verywell Health]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Florence’s Plague-Era Wine Windows Are Back in Business

A wine window in Florence's Via Santo Spirito.
A wine window in Florence's Via Santo Spirito.

Many bars and restaurants have started selling takeout cocktails and other alcoholic beverages to stay in business—and keep customers safe—during the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, 17th-century Florentines are surely applauding from their front-row seats in the afterlife.

As Insider reports, a number of buildings in Florence had been constructed with small “wine windows,” or buchette del vino, through which vendors sold wine directly to less affluent customers. When the city suffered an outbreak of plague in the 1630s, business owners recognized the value of these windows as a way to serve people without spreading germs. They even exchanged money on a metal tray that was sanitized with vinegar.

Wine not?sailko, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Things eventually went back to normal, and the windows slowly fell out of fashion altogether as commerce laws evolved. This year, however, they’ve made a comeback. According to Food & Wine, there are currently at least four in operation around Florence. Osteria delle Brache in Piazza Peruzzi is using its window to deliver wine and cocktails, for example, and the Vivoli ice cream shop, a go-to dessert spot since 1929, is handing out sweet scoops and coffee through its formerly dormant aperture.

Apart from the recent resurgence of interest, the wine windows often go unnoticed by tourists drawn to the grandeur of attractions like the Uffizi Gallery and the Florence Cathedral. So in 2015, locals Matteo Faglia, Diletta Corsini, and Mary Christine Forrest established the Wine Window Association to generate some buzz. In addition to researching the history of the windows, they also keep a running list of all the ones they know of. Florence has roughly 150, and there are another 100 or so in other parts of Tuscany.

They’re hoping to affix a plaque near each window to promote their stories and discourage people from defacing them. And if you want to support their work, you can even become a member of the organization for €25 (about $29).

[h/t Insider]